United States law defines human trafficking as the “use of force, fraud, or coercion to compel a person into commercial sex acts or labor or services against his or her will. The one exception involves minors and commercial sex. Inducing a minor into commercial sex is considered human trafficking regardless of the presence of force, fraud or coercion.” ‘Trafficking in persons,’ ‘human trafficking,’ and ‘modern slavery’ are used as umbrella terms to refer to both sex trafficking and compelled labor. At any given time in 2016, an estimated 40.3 million people were in modern slavery, including 24.9 million in forced labor and 15.4 million in forced marriage.
- Out of the 24.9 million people trapped in forced labor, 16 million are exploited in the private sector, such as domestic work, construction or agriculture; 4.8 million are sexually exploited; and 4 million are in forced labor imposed by state authorities.
- 1 in 4 victims of modern slavery are children.
- Women and girls are disproportionately affected by forced labor, accounting for 99% of victims in the commercial sex industry and 58% of victims in other sectors.
In 2016, the Global Alliance formed a task force to help discern how we can best support efforts to prevent human trafficking. We know that factors that can make young people vulnerable to becoming trafficked or becoming traffickers include poverty, family violence, exclusion, and migration and that drivers of human trafficking include poverty, social inequality and gender discrimination, inadequate education and opportunity, ethnic discrimination, and demand for cheap labor and cheap sex. As a behavioral health organization that embeds its work in principles of human rights and social justice, we are committed to the primary prevention of trafficking and recognize that a key component to primary prevention strategies is creating healthy communities.
The Human Trafficking Task Force’s recommendations for the Biden/Harris Administration are based on a multiyear examination of scholarly literature, NGO reports, and reports from international and U.S. governing bodies to understand what is known about the prevention of (child) trafficking.
Recommendations for Trafficking Prevention
- Allocate grant funding aimed at developing, evaluating, and disseminating community-based primary prevention programs.
- Foster ongoing interdisciplinary collaboration between survivor leaders, governmental agency representatives, digital experts, and anthropologists on the Interagency Task Force to Combat Trafficking.
- The Strategic Objectives of the 2020 Interagency Task Force should be based on clearly articulated principles and place greater emphasis on primary prevention strategies that are comprehensive, universal, and inclusive.
- Assess for and report trafficking indicators [impact statements] on all government agency RFPs and reports, including but not limited to housing, transportation, business, labor, agriculture, FEMA, and immigration. Further, the impact statements for RFPs and reports specific to children and youth should address the degree to which the documents are child-centered and family-focused.
- Use the bully pulpit to establish norms regarding what should be done by community members to keep our children and neighbors safe.
- Require all private technology companies with operations in the United States to combat, track, and report labor and sex trafficking activities on their platforms. Companies that fail to deliver accurate reports to the government should face substantial financial penalties.
- Reduce labor and sex trafficking demand by increasing the number of seasonal and domestic workers that can legally be in the U.S. to work.